HandyWaiter - Dumbwaiter

Drawing inspiration from our ultra reliable WoodWaiter, WB Fowler Industries also produces the multi-purpose electrical HandyWaiter, a dumbwaiter that is able to travel as much as 40 feet vertically. We have designed the electric dumbwaiter to lift 200 pounds at a speed of 28 feet per minute. The car is always custom built to suit our customer's needs. The car floor may be as low as 34 inches above the existing floor at it's lowest level.

The shaft area, where the lifting device operates, must be lined with fireproof material. The car is moved up and down the track by means of a low maintenance number 40 roller chain with a 3125 pound burst strength. We do not use a drum and cable system which is much less reliable than chain and requires the mechanism be located above the car at the top of the hoistway.  Adjustable limit switches stop the car at each level.  A safety brake is built into the car in case of an unforeseen loss of lift.

The HandyWaiter dumbwaiter track is built in 6 foot sections with the first section of track holding the motor, gearbox and main electrical control panel.

WB Fowler Industries has manufactured HandyWaiters as a perfect vertical lift solution for many locations:

  • Restaurants with multi-floor dining
  • Private Clubs for drinks service
  • Retirees for grocery lift up flights of stairs
  • Flood zone areas where structures are built on pilings


The HandyWaiter is ideal for coastal homes that are built on pilings.  The motor, gearbox and main 120v AC electrical control panel can be relocated to the top of the hoistway and out of the way of water at no extra charge.  All control panels (min. 1 per access door) operate on 24v AC.

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HandyWaiter Installation

Installation Instructions for both Top & Bottom mounted motors

  • Before installing the HandyWaiter please make sure that the hoistway shaft walls are lined with a fireproof material adequate for your local zoning bylaws. 5/8" drywall is usually sufficient for most areas.  Make sure the track side wall of the shaft is first lined with 3/4" plywood underneath the drywall to anchor the track lag screws.
  • Install the first modular section. This section should be secured central of the track side of the hoistway wall. The following numbered sections stack and interlock on top of each other to the top of the shaft and must also be secured to the hoistway wall.
  • Install the universal electric door locks & door safety switches as indicated on the enclosed diagrams.
  • Feel free to call anytime with any questions.
  • Carefully unroll the chain that is located in the car. Thread the chain over the top sprocket, being careful not to twist it, to the bottom of the unit. To make this easier, now lift the car approximately 12 inches and install the chain around the bottom sprocket so that the weight of the car is resting on the chain, this allows easier installation of the threaded rod into the 5/16” hole on the bracket of the car. Now install the washer and nut and tighten the tensioning spring until all the coils are touching. Again check that there are no twists and that the chain is roughly parallel to the track. Then cut the zip tie holding back the car's safety brake.
  • The Master control panel is attached to the motor via a large black power cord. It should be mounted on the wall just outside the hoistway.  Power is 120 volt and should be on a separate dedicated 15-amp circuit breaker. The 24-volt control panels are attached via connectors that are numbered. By connecting like numbers you can complete the installation of all the control panels.


Once a year the lift chain should be lightly oiled.  A motorcycle chain lube in an aerosol spray can works well.  Make sure the power is off and the car is at the bottom of the hoistway before lubricating the chain.

HandyWaiter specifications


Max height of travel

40 feet


Travel speed

28 feet per minute


Max capacity

200 lbs



1/2 HP


Control panel

24 v





1Why would I choose a HandyWaiter instead of a WoodWaiter ?
  • If the distance that the car needs to travel is more than 8' you will have to go with the HandyWaiter. It has a travel distance of up to forty feet.
  • If you want to be able to serve more than two floors. The HandyWaiter can have a total of four stops.
  • If you need a custom car size you should choose the HandyWaiter. You can also purchase an optional Stainless steel car with a removable tray.
  • If you wish to have an inner cart that will roll out, at all levels you will need the HandyWaiter.
  • If car travel speed is of importance - the HandyWaiter car travels at 28 feet per minute.
2What comes standard with the HandyWaiter ?
Comes complete with
  • Electronic door locks for each level
  • door contacts to prevent car from moving if an access door is open
  • smart microcontroller system (with LED diagnostic tool)
  • stainless brushed steel control panel at each level
  • electric braking system
  • complete wiring with numbered plug-ins
  • custom sized basket
3Why does the HandyWaiter require a fireproof shaft ?
Standard Building codes require that anything that can act as a chimney and thereby facilitate the movement of a fire be lined with a fireproof material
4Is it difficult to install ?
It is a bit more complicated than the WoodWaiter but due to the HandyWaiter's modular concept not by much. The unit arrives in 6-foot sections, with one section custom sized to suit your installation. They stack together and are screwed to one wall of the shaft, so installation is simple.
5What are the car sizes ?
We custom make each HandyWaiter car to suit its' application. The maximum car size usually being 26" X 26"
6What is the standard car made of ?
It is made of the same material as our WoodWaiter, a wrought iron frame with three sides made of expanded metal. As mentioned in # 1 we do offer optional stainless steel cars, ideally suited for moving prepared food.
7What is the guarantee?
The unit is guaranteed for a period of five years from the date of purchase. This does not cover improper installation or use.
8How long has your company been making the HandyWaiter ?
We have been building, and shipping HandyWaiters all over North America since 1997 - the WoodWaiter since 1983.
9What is the lead time ?
The units are built as the orders are received. The time can vary from 4 to 5 weeks to 7 to 8 in busy times. You must also take into consideration the time required to ship the unit to you.
10Where are they made ?
They are made, tested and shipped all over North America from our shop in the Eastern Township’s of Quebec.
11Where are the dealers ?
Due to the fact that each HandyWaiter is custom made all our units are shipped factory-direct from our manufacturing facility.
12What are the electrical requirements ?
Hardwire to a separate 15 amp circuit breaker.
13What can I use it for ?
You can use it to move anything inanimate. This is NOT an elevator. It is NOT to be used for transporting people or pets
14What size motor does it have ?
1/2 HP motor fused 15 amp 110v AC.
15How much can the HandyWaiter lift ?
The maximum weight capacity is 200 lbs.
16How fast is it ?
The traveling speed is 28 feet per minute

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  • Mr. Camille L. and Mrs. Louise L.
    We have been using it for a few weeks and we are extremely satisfied with our HandyWaiter. Installing the dumbwaiter is easy and the system is very safe. It has been very satisfying doing business with you. It is always a pleasure to mention your company, your professionalist and the excellent quality/price ratio. Thanks,
    Mr. Camille L. and Mrs. Louise L.